Coping With Emotions When You’re Newly Gluten-Free

During your first few weeks and months on a gluten-free diet, you will experience many different emotions.

You may be relieved or even happy that you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity because it explains the symptoms that can be confusing. If it took you a long time to finally be diagnosed, you may feel angry. You may feel sad when gluten-free living in your everyday life becomes a reality, and you realize that you can no longer eat gluten-free versions of many of your favorite foods.

In fact, it’s most common to feel sad and a little angry when you’re learning how to eat gluten-free. Admittedly, it can be inconvenient and frustrating at times.

Here are three situations that often trigger real negative emotions when you’re just starting out gluten-free, along with some strategies and tips to help you cope.

A first trip to the grocery store can be frustrating

For many people unfamiliar with a gluten-free diet, their first trip to the grocery store is an exercise in pain, frustration and anger. It’s normal to spend hours in the store reading food labels, but still go out with far less than you intend to buy, simply because you can’t figure out what’s gluten-free and what’s not.

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Some people were in tears on the first trip because it was so overwhelming and frustrating.

Yes, it’s easier than ever to follow a gluten-free diet, but there’s still a huge learning curve involved, and most of that learning seems to take place in the aisles of your local supermarket. To make the first few shopping trips easier, check out our comprehensive list of gluten-free foods. In it, we provide tips on what is always safe, what is never safe, and what you need to check.

Foods You Can’t Eat Anymore Might Make You Sad

Once you’ve organized your food and you have enough gluten-free food to eat, you need to process your emotions because you can’t eat a lot of the foods you once enjoyed.

Here’s another tough one: It’s hard to see your family and friends enjoying your old favorites, especially if you haven’t found any new favorites to replace them. These feelings are strongest during the holidays and other special occasions, but can happen at any time of the year, like when your friend decides to order pizza on a whim.

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The only way to deal with this is to try as hard as you can to find some new favorite foods.

For example, many restaurants these days offer gluten-free pizza (some even offer), or you can have gluten-free frozen pizza. Independent gluten-free bakeries are popping up in big towns too, so you can satisfy your sweet tooth with some really good stuff.

You’ll inevitably have some really sad patches (especially around the holidays), but if you focus on finding or creating really good food that’s better than the gluten-rich foods on offer, you can save yourself from Get out of the downturn.

Eating out safely gluten-free takes practice

Many people like to eat out. But once you follow a gluten-free diet, it goes from a pleasant experience to (you guessed it) a frustrating, sad one.

When starting out, stick to restaurants with gluten-free menus. These restaurants are more likely to have their staff trained on how to handle gluten-free meal requests, so you don’t need to explain too much.

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Once you feel more confident, you can step out of your comfort zone and try new restaurants. Check out these tips for eating out gluten-free safely.

Yes, you should expect some mood swings (especially if you’re gluten-depressed like some people are) during the first few months of starting a diet. But overall, as your health improves and you learn how to more easily follow your diet, your mood should trend upward.